Nothing But Initials. Lost in the Alphabet Soup.

If you told a potential investor, major client or partner that you were the president of AMA, what do you think his initial reaction would be? Wow, this guy runs the American Medical Association, or is it the American Marketing Association or the American Musical Association. What if it is simply Analytical Mechanics Association or the African Muscle Associates or that restaurant service company called AMA?

There are 31 records as of today in the USPTO trademark database that are entries for AMA by itself, and many more that include AMA. Now which trademark is yours and how are you going to preserve and promote it? Google gives over 100 million hits on the initials AMA, and number 3 is the American Motorcycle Association just ahead of the American Management Association.

Now do you still want to give your company a long name that quickly becomes initials? And how will they find you on the web? Already all .com domain names that are 4 letters or less are taken, so you will need some attached descriptor or tail of some sort. Is this anyway to start a new brand? Remember, a brand is a promise of an experience. Your name is shorthand for this brand promise.

So why not give it a real name? Even a coined name or abstract name will be easier to promote and for your clients to recall and to associate with. A name for which you have the matching URL and the registered trademark clearly and uniquely to yourself (at least within your industry). Instead of trying to describe your business in a long name, give it a short sweet name that works on the phone and internet, and use a tagline to describe and position the company for new prospects.

But what about IBM, CBS, TI and AOL? Aren’t those famous initial companies? Yes, but in most cases they were compensating for very long names, or hiding a problem (America Online didn’t work outside USA). Plus they have lots of money and have had many years to grow their brand. Few, if any, younger major companies have succeeded with initials. Even KFC (which was an attempt to fix a perceived problem) is going back to being Kentucky Fried Chicken.

So, leave the abbreviations for the government associations, hospitals and educational institutions. They are not in the marketing game per say. They don’t care about trademarks and URL’s to the same extent, since you are going to interact with them no matter what. Make sure you do not become lost in the alphabet soup by becoming YASI (Yet Another Set of Initials).

In just one small example, these 3 companies are within a few blocks of each other in Sunnyvale, California. How well go you relate to them? (No, they are not all part of The Irvine Company. That is their landlord).


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